To set the scene, Student #1 is the biggest, rowdiest kid in my class. Student #2 is a tiny, fragile little thing who cries at loud noises. And…
Student #1: These headphones are too squeezy! My brain is hurting!
Student #2: Can I have them?
Student #1: But they hurt! They will squeeze your brain!
Student #2: My brain is tough. I can take the pain.
The entire class fell silent at this, I swear. We all watched Student #1 hand over the headphones to Student #2, who put them on with a nonchalant shrug and went on working.
Student #3 (whispering): Wow. I think she leveled up!
Me: (dying of laughter inside, nodding approvingly to Student #2 on the outside)
In keeping with our new superhero theme, I made Spellatron 5000 into SUPER Spellatron 5000, complete with mask and cape! I also took out the old ping-pong balls with spelling words on them and added all new ones, much more challenging. Suddenly the kids are wild to practice their spelling words again!
Today I started a “help wanted” board for occasional jobs that can be done after finishing morning work, and the kids made their superhero avatars! Some kids made up their own heroes (I have a Bookwoman, a Power Princess, and a Zap Guy, to name a few), some patterned their hero after existing comic book heroes. We are on our way!
More progress on my superhero incentive program! Today was spring cleaning and reviewing procedures, so we will start learning to be superheroes tomorrow. I will introduce the first “focus” superhero skill and have them create their superhero avatars. I also found the PERFECT container for the “secret identity” name, which is a small plastic suitcase from an old game. I just printed out and taped on the label, and it looks great. Now I just need to make the secret identity name cards, and to remember to choose one each day!
The students are wildly interested in all the superhero stuff around the room (I even dressed our bear in a mask and cape) and can’t wait to get started with their “training”!
What I Did Over Spring Break: I got a sewing machine and learned how to use it! My first project was a pillowcase, my second project a squid body pillow. I can’t wait to do more!
I also attended most of a three day film festival this past weekend, and boy am I not ready to go back to work today. So tired! Fortunately, my first day back from spring break plans always include “spring cleaning”, which first graders LOVE (washing tables, making new name tags, cleaning out mailboxes and such). That will help.
When we return from Spring Break, we will be wrapping up our unit on opinion writing by doing book reviews. I decided to use Mo Willems as a focus, and drew Elephant and Piggie for our display wall! I hope that this will get the kids excited about doing book reviews when they see this next week!
It’s Spring Break but as I have no travel plans, I’m determined to get some big projects done at school while I have the time and energy. So today I spent a couple of hours making our new Superhero goal chart!
This is not a behavior chart where you move names around according to how students are acting that day. Rather, all students will start at the bottom (“origin story”) and work their way up to “HERO” by earning hero points. Points can be earned by walking laps on the track at recess with me (our Walking Club), or by “hero behavior”. I will start each week with a lesson on what hero behavior looks like and what I will be looking for that week (things like kindness, responsibility, etc…I will take pictures of the posters I’ll be using for this at some point), and I will be choosing a “secret hero” each day. For the secret hero, I pick a name in secret each morning and I watch that student in particular for hero behavior all day. If they earn points, I reveal the name at the end of the day and they get extra points. If not, I do not reveal the name but rather tell the class that the secret hero will get another chance some other day.
I still have a lot to do…the hero behavior posters, the secret hero thing (I want to call it something like secret identity?), and how I’m going to keep track of points. I do know that I want students to make little superhero avatars for the chart that can be moved up as they get more points, so I need to figure that out too. And I really want to do something cool like a fabric mask or something as an official “you are now a superhero” thing for when they reach the top, too.
Oh, and that “superhero signal” thing at the top is a paw print because our walking club is “run” by our class teddy bear, who uses a paw print stamp. I need to buy or make him a superhero outfit, too!
I love stuff like this! We really need something new and engaging to take us through to the end of the year, and I think this will do it!
…until spring break. I can make it. I hope.
There is a great game on GoNoodle that teaches vocabulary words with movements (crossed arms to each side for “refuse”, miming hitting something with a hammer for “destroy”, running in place for “dash”, and so on). I’ve been using the movements we have learned so far for attention signals (“Everyone stop and show me “beaming”!”), which the kids love. This week, I decided to make it an exercise center with our one minute timers. Students pick words and do the movements, each one for a count of ten, until their minute is up. I wrote definitions on the back and tried to draw little stick figures showing the movements, if needed. I think it will be a hit!